Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bushism and the Culture of Weakness

by Tom Bozzo

John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey:
But I got a few angry e-mails about "Wait, Aren't You Scared" ... well, the point being, by not freaking out over exploding Maybelline, I'm in some sort of weird denial. That's ridiculous -- I just have a different sense of what may/might/probably will kill me or a large number of my fellow citizens. Suicide bombers -- low odds. Loose nukes -- very goddam high odds, thanks. What I'm asking for are a real security measures, and counselling cool heads while we take ruthless, efficient and proven-effective counterterrorism actions.
Damn straight. This reminds me of a bit of conversation I'd had with a colleage during the trip to D.C. a couple weeks ago. It had come around to a discussion of terrorism risks and John Mueller's article of a couple years ago, "A False Sense of Insecurity," indicating that the risk of dying in a terrorist attack has been comparable to the risk of dying from being struck by lightning, even including 9/11/01. True, my colleague said, but people seem to be particularly (irrationally, if you will) afraid of being blown up inside a transonic tin can.

This provides another example of the assbackward direction of right-wing policy and politics. We saw this in the Social Security "reform" debate. Government is better-situated to absorb various risks than corporations or individuals. Yet even "sensible" center-leaners promoted plans shifting retirement income security risk from government to individuals, which would reinforce corporate externalizing of risks.

Likewise, to the extent our brains have difficulty rationally processing various threats to our well-being, it could be said to be government's role to stiffen the collective spine while functioning as an effective technocracy to allocate resources to address the real risks. The Bush Administration M.O., in contrast, has been to make us weak on multiple fronts — by promoting irrational fear of terrorism while directing enormous resources to fronts in the War on Terra, notably Iraq, that are largely of its own making.

Thus, we get the “America is safer, but not yet safe’’ theme of the latest National Strategy for Combating Terrorism document, which is almost laughable in its attempt to find a ground where the Administration appears to be effective but not so effective that, in an inversion of the usual political formula (*), they can be tossed out in favor of a more competent and less mendacious regime that is also less inclined to view the Constitution (other than Article II) as so much toilet paper.

But, in the big picture, they have to be seen as failing by their own standards. Even Thomas Friedman told Katie Couric that, notwithstanding platitudes about promoting democracy, the Administration is exporting fear more than hope. Perhaps Friedman is a Friedman or two away from joining the reality-based community?

And here's part of the "Strategy for Long-Term Success:"
...there is also a need for all elements of our Nation – from Federal, State, and local governments to the private sector to local communities and individual citizens – to help create and share responsibilities in a Culture of Preparedness. This Culture of Preparedness, which applies to all catastrophes and all hazards, natural or man-made, rests on four principles: a shared acknowledgement of the certainty of future catastrophes and that creating a prepared Nation will be a continuing challenge; the importance of initiative and accountability at all levels of society; the role of citizen and community preparedness; and finally, the roles of each level of government and the private sector in creating a prepared Nation.
While I don't doubt that this could be Republican code for "stock up on duct tape," (**) the majority who might think that the government really should take a leading role in the "Culture of Preparedness" should consider things like this, this, this, and especially this:


(*) I.e., voters like progressive programs but can be persuaded to vote for Republicans to get their taxes, if not actually cut, then deferred to an arbitrary future date, criminals locked up, etc.

(**) Read that and wonder just what happened to Holy Joe.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?